The Baltic states have consistently supported Ukraine, its territorial integrity and independence. During russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, they once again confirmed their stance.
Even though the governments and the majority of those countries’ populations consider the russian federation to be the aggressor, russia still attempts to alter their minds. Of course, it does this by spreading fakes and propaganda about Ukraine. But has it been successful? Find out in our article.
Russian propaganda was spreading in Lithuania and Latvia way before the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine. These countries’ governments, however, made efforts to prevent or stop it.
The fight against russian propaganda in these countries has especially intensified since the start of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine.
For example, since June, Latvia has banned the broadcast of 80 russian TV channels that had previously still been available in the country.
On 22 September, the Lithuanian Seimas did the same, adopting amendments to the legislation that allowed banning russian and belarusian TV and radio broadcasters from operation in the country for 2 years.
In the same month, the Lithuanian Seimas proposed to ban all russian and belarusian state media until 16 October 2024.
“It is very important for Lithuania, a country that has borders with both russia and belarus, to effectively protect its society and the media space from information threats”, said Vytautas Juozapaitis, chairman of the Seimas Committee on Culture.
Recently, a russian language school textbook that glorified russia was spotted in Lithuania. It invited the children to visit russia and the occupied Crimea. The textbook was, naturally, promptly removed from the school curriculum.
Before that, in June 2022, Latvian authorities even arrested Vladimir Linderman, a pro-russian propagandist, for justifying genocide, crimes against peace, humanity, and war crimes. The russian federation had been renumerating him for such criminal propaganda activity.
Such a proactive fight against russian propaganda has worked successfully, both before and during the full-scale war!
In 2018 in Lithuania, Laurynas Kasčiūnas, chairman of the Seimas National Security and Defense Committee, said that the popularity of russian state channels had dropped almost threefold over a few years. According to him, russian propaganda was still present but no longer dominated Lithuania’s key channels.
At the same time, he believed that russia still managed to get its messages across through a specific segment of society. Some ethnic communities and “people of lower social standing” within the Lithuanian population were more susceptible to kremlin propaganda.
He added that Lithuanians had apparently grown less nostalgic for the soviet past. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of nostalgic respondents dropped from 42% to 25%. By now, the figure is likely significantly lower.
This does not discourage russians, however. They somehow believe Lithuanians and Latvians to be their enemies, the same as Ukrainians. No wonder! After all, both countries have rightfully refused friendship with the russian federation, choosing the Euro-Atlantic course.
Thus, russian propaganda in those countries focuses on defaming them as much as Ukraine.
For example, in May 2022, propagandists spread a fake alleging that Lithuania sought to annex the Kaliningrad region. They stressed that such an attempt would lead to russia defending its territory by all available means.
A typical russian move, portraying someone other than russia as the aggressor.
Above all, russians got outraged after Lithuania (pursuant to EU sanctions) restricted the transit of sanctioned goods through its territory to the Kaliningrad region. Propagandists even styled it a “Kaliningrad blockade” to make russians associate the events with World War II and the war against the Nazis.
Such accusations and threats seek to force the West to make concessions to placate russia and avert World War III.
But those are just some of the narratives about Lithuania and Latvia spread inside russia. They are all similar to the ones spread about Ukraine, claiming that “the countries are starving”, “they are the West’s puppets”, etc.
Matti Maasikas, Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, believes that Eastern European countries have become very good at detecting russian propaganda because it has been active in their media for a long time.
In Western Europe, on the other hand, the situation is different. “Look at Ireland, for example. It enjoyed democracy for a century, its people did not live under the Nazi or the Soviet regime, and they were better off this way. And I understand them when the Irish express their sheer surprise that some of those fake news are, in fact, well-planned targeted russian propaganda.”